3 big questions ahead of ESL Pro League 13’s group A

Nick Johnson • March 8, 03:05
ESL Pro League Season 13 is just around the corner, so here’s a breakdown of the three biggest storylines ahead of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s premier league. ESL Pro League’s 13th season starts on March 8, with the six teams from group A kicking off weeks of professional CSGO matches. Group A’s initial matchups are an excellent opportunity for fans to check out some rosters that are unknown commodities looking to break out in this event.
 
With Complexity headlining group A, there’s bound to be some fireworks. But for every Complexity there’s an OG, a team that just can’t seem to get out of its own way after it dismissed a veteran star last week. It’s possible that one of the four remaining teams from Group A has an impact on ESL Pro League, but it’s unlikely. Here are three questions that ESL Pro League’s first week of matches can answer for fans. 
 
ESL Pro League Season 13 group A teams:

Three key questions ahead of ESL Pro League Season 13’s group A matches

What’s going on with NBK and OG?

OG’s year-long CSGO experiment has seemingly failed. The roster released veteran pro Nathan “NBK” Schmidt earlier this week, officially removing one part of the team’s muddy leadership problem.  But with the reveal from OG in-game leader Aleksi “Aleksib” Virolainen that OG rifler Issa “ISSAA” Murad hasn’t been able to bootcamp with the team, it’s a strange and dangerous move. For some reason, OG decided to bench NBK over finding a replacement for ISSAA and his 100-ping connection, pointing towards disagreements inside the team rather than a performance-related reason. After all, OG’s CSGO roster was NBK’s project, and he hand-picked its roster. 
 
For him to be the one to go, something must have gone seriously wrong inside the OG camp. OG was dumpstered by Complexity earlier this week in the DreamHack Masters Spring 2021, to the tune of 16-3 and 16-5. That’s a brutal loss and it probably won’t get any better for OG in ESL Pro League Season 13. The team fielded benched Heroic player Nikolaj “niko” Kristensen in NBK’s place at DreamHack Masters and he’s expected to stay on with OG for at least the little while. But one change won’t fix OG, even if his name is “niko.”

Can FunPlus Phoenix find success in ESL Pro League Season 13?

FunPlus Phoenix has had a rough time trying to get into the professional CSGO scene. It lost an entire roster last year in an embarrassing situation for the Chinese esports organization, but it stabilized earlier this year when it successfully picked up the former GODSENT roster as the organization decided to switch to an all-Brazilian one instead. But even this year hasn’t been totally smooth.
 
Just last week, FPX’s fifth Chris “chrisJ” de Jong walked away from the team after standing in as its final man. The team’s manager told Twitter that the team “wasn’t able to get a deal done” with chrisJ just a week before ESL Pro League Season 13, nixing what would have been an exciting start to FPX’s season.
 
 
In chrisJ’s place, FPX quickly announced that Miikka “suNny” Kemppi would be the team’s fifth man. FunPlus Phoenix is well-known in the esports community, but it needed some name recognition in order to pick up some fans in CSGO. Former ENCE player suNny doesn’t bring the name to bring fans in the short-term, or the firepower it will need to make an impact in ESL Pro League Season 13. For now, the event will be a good indication of the team’s ceiling moving forward.

Is Complexity a top-10 CSGO team?

Stats show that Complexity is hovering just outside the top 10, but this week could show that Complexity is finally ready to capitalize on last year’s success. Again, group A isn’t anywhere close to ESL Pro League Season 13’s strongest group, but part of being a top-10 team is demolishing weaker competition. Complexity has that opportunity, starting with its game against FunPlus Phoenix. 
 
Out of all the teams in this group, Complexity might be the most exciting to watch. In-game leader Benjamin “blameF” Bremer has somehow managed to juggle in-game leadership and fragging, putting Complexity in a great position when facing CSGO’s top teams. While each member of Complexity’s roster may be slightly weaker than the stars on other rosters, it’s stronger as a whole.
 
 
Both Justin “jks” Savage and Kristian “k0nfig” Wienecke have experienced marked growth under the IGL, creating a solid core around its young AWPer Valentin “poizon” Vasilev, who’s finally back to 100% after surgery sidelined him late last year.
 
 
Combine those four with a former major winner in Will “RUSH” Wierzba, and Complexity is as scary as ever. There’s even a strong path for Complexity to come out of group A without a loss, starting their spring season with an automatic playoff berth for the ESL Pro League Season 13 finals.  If they can handle the teams in group A, Complexity will be well on its way into CSGO’s top 10 for good.

When does ESL Pro League Season 13 start?

ESL Pro League Season 13 kicks off with group A on March 8 and finishes its regular season on March 29. ESL Pro League 13’s playoffs start on April 3, with the grand final taking place on April 11.
 
 

Which teams are playing in ESL Pro League Season 13?

ESL Pro League became a team-owned league in 2020, so there are 12 member teams that participate in each season. Those teams are:

  • Astralis
  • Natus Vincere
  • Vitality
  • Team Liquid
  • G2 Esports
  • Complexity
  • Ninjas in Pyjamas
  • Evil Geniuses
  • mousesports
  • Fnatic
  • FaZe Clan
  • ENCE

In addition to those teams, each season of ESL Pro League invites a number of other teams based on ESL’s world ranking and placement in its lower division leagues. For ESL Pro League Season 13, those teams are:

  • Endpoint
  • BIG
  • FunPlus Phoenix
  • Renegades
  • Team One
  • MIBR
  • Cloud9
  • OG
  • Heroic
  • FURIA
  • Gambit
  • Virtus.pro

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